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Remembering Alex Odeh: 32 Years Later

Washington, DC | www.adc.org | October 11, 2017 – The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) commemorates the life of Alex Odeh, ADC’s Southern California Regional Director, who was tragically assassinated on October 11, 1985.

Today marks the 32nd Anniversary of the terrorist attack in Santa Ana, California, where Mr. Odeh was killed when a pipe bomb exploded as he opened the door of the ADC office. In addition to killing Alex Odeh, the act of terrorism injured several other victims.

 

Alex Odeh dedicated his life to ADC and social justice. Joining the organization in 1982, Mr. Odeh was at the forefront of combatting the stereotyping of Arabs and biased reporting on the Mideast in the media. Mr. Odeh fought tirelessly to build inter-faith unity between Jews, Muslims and Christians in Southern California. On the day of his assassination, he was scheduled to give a speech at Congregation B’nai Tzadek, a Jewish synagogue in Fountain Valley.

Prior to Mr. Odeh’s assassination, he was subjected to numerous hate-motivated threats to his life and safety because of his advocacy for Arab and Palestinian-American rights. An exemplary civil rights activist, he was dynamic and he never let the threats deter him from his work.

Following Mr. Odeh’s assassination in 1985, the FBI classified the bombing as an act of domestic terrorism and designated the investigation into the case as the highest national priority. However, despite solid leads, advancements in technology and forensics which should have aided in the investigation and prosecution of the perpetrators, no arrest has been made.

The FBI’s case into Mr. Odeh’s murder remains open, with a reward of up to $1 million for information leading to an arrest and conviction. Press reports have stated over the years that the FBI identified members of the Jewish Defense League (JDL) as suspects. However, none of the identified JDL individuals have ever been charged or prosecuted in connection with the murder.

One of the prime suspects in the case, Robert Manning, is currently in prison for the murder of Ms. Patricia Wilkerson, 32, a secretary at the Prowest Computer Corp. Manning was extradited to the U.S. from Israel to face murder charges in the Wilkerson case. Although not confirmed by the U.S. Government, it is believed that the extradition agreement between the U.S. and Israel stipulated that Manning cannot be charged with the murder of Mr. Odeh.

ADC continues to reinforce its demand that those responsible for Odeh’s murder be brought to justice. ADC has maintained pressure on the FBI and the Department of Justice (DOJ) on the Odeh murder investigation. In its most recent call to action, in July 2017, ADC demanded the FBI give updates into its progress in the Odeh investigation. The FBI stated that it would not comment on ongoing investigations and that Odeh’s murderers are still being pursued.  ADC will continue to pressure the FBI and DOJ to find the culprits of the Santa Ana terror attack and to inform the public of the efforts they are making to bring Odeh’s murderers to justice.

In the last year, the resurgence of the JDL has also been a major concern of ADC. The JDL has increased its hate-based activities in recent months, including physically assaulting peaceful Arab protesters outside this year’s American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in Washington D.C. and threatening Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour. The JDL has, in the past, proven to be a formidable terrorist organization in the U.S., most notably credited with bombings and attempted bombings around Los Angeles and New York City in the 1980’s and early 2000’s. Stopping the resurgence of the JDL and its hate-based actions are of the utmost importance to ADC.

On October 22nd, ADC-Orange County will host a memorial banquet dinner for Mr. Odeh in Anaheim, California. The dinner is held annually to celebrate ADC’s civil rights achievements over the prior year and to celebrate Odeh’s enduring legacy as a staunch civil rights advocate.

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